Deepest Positions for 2014
Positional scarcity, or the lack thereof, is one of the most hotly discussed topics during draft season. It makes sense why because after all if a position is deep, then you can afford to wait on it a bit longer during your draft. Conversely a position where talent is very scare would warrant its top producers going higher up in rankings and drafts than they otherwise would. For example, do you think Robinson Cano would still be a first rounder if the other 29 2nd baseman in the league were somewhere in between Jason Kipnis and Ian Kinsler? Probably not.
The focus of my article today will be the positions in major league baseball that I consider to be especially deep for fantasy purposes, positions where the difference between a pick in the 10th round might not be so different from one in the 15th. These are the positions where you can most afford to wait on while you fill out the rest of your roster.
I've harped on this topic all season long, but for the sake of reinforcing the point I'll say it again: pitching is historically deep this season.
Let's say you wait till round 10 of your 10 team league's snake draft to pick your first pitcher, who might you be able to get in that round? Going by ESPN's ADP numbers you'd have your choice of Matt Latos (91.5), Jared Weaver (94.2), Shelby Miller (94.6), or Gerrit Cole (99.1) my own personal favorite SP sleeper of 2014.
You might say surely the talent bottoms out after that? In the end of the 13th round the Red Sox ace Jon Lester leaves the board (130.9). In round 14 you could seek out strikeouts and upside with Jeff Samardzija (139.1), and in the 18th round you'd have your pick of young phenoms with huge upside as Sonny Gray (171.7), Zack Wheeler (172.8), and Tony Cingrani (178.1) are picked up.
Injury concerns have cast the former Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto (181.1) all the way to the 19th round of standard league drafts. I could go on noting that the young Braves pitcher with great strikeout stuff and a solid hold on a job, Alex Wood (228.0), isn't being picked up until the 23rd round in ADP, or that someone like Ian Kennedy (232.8), a pitcher with real upside, is going undrafted in some leagues this season. But I think you get the point. Despite the injuries that have struck so many young pitchers this Spring, pitching is deep this year: very, very deep.
Number 2-6 Outfielders
I qualified that statement on outfielders because I do think that there is a scarcity of outfielders in major league baseball who I would be completely comfortable with slotting in at my top outfield spot. After the top guys there just aren't other players who I would consider a true, reliable 5 category contributor. There are guys with potential to become this (i.e. guys like Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper, or Yasil Puig), but no one quite like Andrew McCutchen who you can slot into the number 1 spot and never think twice about for the rest of the season. This is why I usually grab an outfielder in the first 3 rounds of most of my drafts.
After these guys however, I think the field becomes incredibly deep. Jose Bautista (43.1) still has 40+ home run upside and he can be bought at 5th round cost. Matt Kemp's (74.0) injuries have dropped him all the way down to the 8th round, but if he's able to get healthy, 1st round upside is still there. The immense upside of Wil Myers (79.7) is there in the late 8th, only to be followed by the just as talented Jason Heyward (82.4) in the 9th. If you're looking for speed outside the first 20 rounds, Rajai Davis (226.1) and Eric Young Jr. (223.3) can both be had in the 23rd round. Josh Reddick (198.0), one of my favorite bounce-back candidates this year, is a cheap source of power in the 20th round as is Khris Davis (191.8).
These are just a couple of the outfielders that I would be more than happy to build my team around. And the great thing is that if you miss out on them, Will Venable (133.2) will still be there in the 14th, as will Christian Yelich (192.2) in the 20th. As in most years there's no reason to panic and reach to fill out your outfield. There's enough quality players out there that you can afford to wait for the values to fall to you.